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EMBO J. 1996 Apr 15;15(8):1850-6.

FhuA, a transporter of the Escherichia coli outer membrane, is converted into a channel upon binding of bacteriophage T5.

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Laboratoire des Biomembranes, URA CNRS 1116, Université Paris Sud, Orsay, France.


The Escherichia coli outer membrane protein FhuA catalyzes the transport of Fe3+(-)ferrichrome and is the receptor of phage T5 and phi 80. The purified protein inserted into planar lipid bilayers showed no channel activity. Binding of phage T5 and FhuA resulted in the appearance of high conductance ion channels. The electrophysiological characteristics of the channels (conductance, kinetic behavior, substates, ion selectivity including the effect of ferrichrome) showed similarities with those of the channel formed by a FhuA derivative from which the 'gating loop' (delta 322-355) had been removed. binding of phage T5 to FhuA in E.coli cells conferred SDS sensitivity to the bacteria, suggesting that such channels also exist in vivo. These data suggest that binding of T5 to loop 322-355 of FhuA, which constitutes the T5 binding site, unmasks an inner channel in FhuA. Both T5 and ferrichrome bind to the closed state of the channel but only T5 can trigger its opening.

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